The Vegan Pantry

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

The following piece was kindly written for Full Stomach by the lovely Chrissie from Artichoke Zine. Her blog is great and you should definitely check it out! Her informal, chatty writing makes her blog very approachable and she has loads of pictures of some very yummy looking stuff!

The article contains lots of information about what veganism is and includes a list of store cupboard essentials for no-fuss vegan meals. Thanks Chrissie!

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Veganism means that you don’t wear or consume any products which come from an animal. This includes meat, fish, milk, eggs and honey. No fur, suede or wool, and many vegans boycott companies which test their products on animals, and buy eco-friendly cleaning products.

With the technicalities out of the way, it’s not as bad as it sounds! Veganism may seem to cut out a lot from your diet, but these are soon replaced with animal friendly alternatives, a healthier diet, lighter conscience and a broader knowledge of cooking.

Before turning vegan, I spoke to a friend who had been vegan for years. He explained that it changed his life- I thought, “Come on! Changed your life? A little dramatic!" But a few weeks after I went vegan, I had the same light bulb moment. I had lost weight, had more energy, felt positive about my diet and explored cooking in a completely different way.

Veganism has taught me to have an open mind with ingredients; when eggs aren’t available to give cakes their fluffy and risen consistency, you have to look for alternatives. Ripe bananas are a favourite of mine. Oil works very well, as does packaged dried egg replacements. Adding some extra baking powder gives it a gently nudge in the right direction. In fact there are very few recipes which can’t be veganised; meringue is probably top of the list!

You don’t need expensive faux meats and cheeses to make great vegan meals- and supermarkets stock almost all of the essentials.

Here’s a shopping list of products which make my life easier and tastier:

Vegetables: It might sound sort of obvious but vegetables are an absolute staple to my diet; meals revolve around them and I’ve learnt so much about what’s in season throughout the year, when things taste better and what to avoid to have a slightly more environmentally friendly meal.

Spinach: It doesn’t live much longer than a few days, but it can be added to so many dishes that it doesn’t last very long in my kitchen. Use instead of lettuce in a sandwich, stirred into a freshly made butternut squash soup, wilted with butter and freshly grated nutmeg, added to curries and Moroccan stews, popped into salads.

Vitalite Butter: Dairy free butter, it’s creamy and delicious. Can be found in Tesco, Asda and Iceland.

Oatly ‘milk’ and Alpro ‘cream’: I try not to have a completely soya sourced diet, so stick to oat milk. Slightly thinner than soya milk, but with a warmer flavour. Soya cream is a cupboard essential; it brings a peanut butter curry together beautifully, and poured over cherry crumble it’s just brilliant.

Tofu: Tofu is an occasional addition to a meal; my favourite way of cooking tofu is to slice into thin triangles (around 5mm thick), brush with oil and coat with a thick marinade. Grill for around 15 minutes until the outside is quite crisp and the inside is fluffy. Serve with toasted cashew nuts and salad.

Risotto Rice: Risotto is one of my absolute favourite recipes. I always make sure that I have a box of rice in, and add pretty much any vegetables that I have lying around. Have patience and it will be your favourite meal too.

Couscous: So simple but so brilliant. Pour it into a bowl. Pour over some hot water. Pop a plate over the top. Leave for 5 minutes. It literally doesn’t get any better than that. Drizzle with oil, throw in some paprika and add to salad. Use instead of rice with a Moroccan stew. Stuff some portabella mushrooms with it; pour on some melted butter infused with garlic and white wine, and cover with breadcrumbs.

Houmous: It’s the answer to everything. Pitta bread and houmous. Jacket potato and houmous. Carrot sticks and houmous. Houmous in a sandwich with spinach, olives and sundried tomatoes.

Chickpeas: These can be made into so many things; soup, falafel, houmous, added to salads, smashed with raw chillies and coriander, roasted with spices.

Soya sauce: Chop some ginger and add some soya sauce and oil, and you have yourself a stir fry sauce! The fridge is bare? Add soya sauce to cooked rice and toss in some toasted cashews!

Stock cubes: Genius. They make your soups, give your risotto flavour and even make a little afternoon drink. Little cubes of joy.

Flour and sugar: To make life a little sweeter. And because baking should be able to happen at any moment.

Spices: You can find pretty much any kind of spice you like in my cupboards; some twice over. Even three times over. Yes I have three jars of turmeric- and?

Salt: Maldon. Perfect. Crunch it into anything, crush it over a piece of toast rubbed with tomato and drizzled with oil, pinch it into a cake mix and let the flavours hit you.

Olive Oil: Good quality olive oil. Spend a little bit more and drown in flavour.

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Look out for more from Chrissie this month as she shows us a simple, delicious risotto recipe.

3 comments:

philly hb,  2 February 2010 at 22:30  

interesting article, chrissie. i agree with the maldon sea salt, i can't cook without it! i always buy the cheap olive oils though, maybe i will invest in something a little better next time.

3 things i pretty much NEVER cook without...

olive oil
good salt
garlic. lots of

Artichoke Zine. 2 February 2010 at 22:57  

I recommend buying good oil- my Spanish flatmate converted me to the joys of oil. You don't have to spend too much- often supermarkets do half price deals, and supermarkets own brands can be great.

Linds 2 February 2010 at 22:59  

Exactly. I don't spend a lot of money on oil either but I do buy the best I can afford.

Couldn't agree more on the garlic front. My old housemate used to swear he hated garlic and onions. He still ate everything we cooked him which invariable contained one or both.

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